North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Reducing Usenet Bandwidth

  • From: Vadim Antonov
  • Date: Mon Feb 11 23:27:46 2002

USENET is by its nature a commons facility for sharing rivalrous resources
(e.g. bandwidth and storage capacity).

Elementary reasoning (if anyone's interested, Lawrence Lessig's "The
Future of Ideas" contains as detailed discussion as anyone can bear :)
leads to the conclusion that lacking usage control mechanisms such commons
are doomed to disintegrate.  No exceptions were found so far.

(Such control mechanisms do not have to be market-based to be effective
and successful; public policy or code may embed usage controls as well -
TCP's cooperative congestion control is an excellent example).

When the Internet was small, the personal reputation was strong enough
limiter to abuse of shared resources.  It only works when community is
smallish and elitary.  This is clearly no longer the case.

In other words - USENET cannot be fixed with technological improvements as 
long as the root problem (admission control) is not solved.  Improving 
transmission or storage systems would only let spammers to send more spam 
for free.

Therefore, i'd say it is time to declare USENET defunct. It was fun while
it lasted.


PS.	Talking about commons... A lot of network and computing resources 
	are quite under-utilized.  Many owners of those resources would
	be quite willing to donate underused capacity to the community -
	providing that such donation will not have any noticeable negative
	impact on resources' performance for primary functions.

	While most modern OS-es have mostly adequate prioritization 
	mechanisms, a lot of would-be donors are turned out by the
	effective inability to protect their primary network capacity.

	Therefore, i would like to ask ISPs to be civic-minded and 
	standartize on an IP TOS for "community" traffic, giving normal
	IP traffic an absolute queueing and drop-policy preference over
	packets with community TOS.  Correspondingly, though most backbone
	(and some access) IP routing equipment already has everything 
	needed to implement community TOS, they could be similarly 
	civic-minded by making such preference turned on by default and 
	by improving per-TOS utilization data collection, so NMS-es won't
	cry wolf seeing links being highly utilized by low-priority 
	traffic.  Another area which needs improvement is making L2 
	switches similarly aware of community TOS in IP packets.